When Microsoft Corp. last week released the next major milestone in its operating system road map, it acknowledged that it may have been a bit too aggressive in regard to at least one feature.
The Redmond, Wash., developer confirmed that the component load balancing feature of Windows 2000 Release Candidate 2 has been taken out of the base product.
COM (Component Object Model)+ load balancing distributes middle-tier business logic across multiple CPUs.
The component load balancing feature of COM+, the object plumbing used by Windows 2000, was in RC1 of Advanced Server SKU (stock-keeping unit). It also was expected to be part of the high-end Windows 2000 Datacenter version, which has yet to go to beta testing. For beta testers who need access to the facility, Microsoft is providing COM+ load balancing as a free, downloadable option from its Product Support Services Division.
Microsoft denies that it pulled the COM+ load balancing technology because it was unstable or unfinished.
"Beta testers said they need the ability to better manage it [COM+ load balancing] and deploy apps using it," said Michael Gross, Microsoft's COM+ product manager.
Gross denied that Microsoft's decision to pull COM+ load balancing means the company is lessening its commitment to Windows 2000 clustering. He said Microsoft will still deliver, as promised, in Advanced Server and Datacenter the network load balancing technology based on the Windows NT Load Balancing Service product Microsoft acquired when it bought Valence Research Inc. last year (www.zdnet.com/sr/stories/news/0,4538,2154067,00.html).
In addition, Microsoft will still provide the ability to balance Web server and e-commerce front-end traffic via this network load balancing capability. It also will deliver two-way clustering in the base Advanced Server SKU and four-way clustering in Datacenter, as it has said it will do, Gross said.
The company also claims that load balancing is the only piece that has been eliminated from RC2. In addition, Microsoft maintains that Windows 2000 is in the final fit-and-finish phase, with no new features being added or eliminated at this point.
Microsoft is still targeting the end of this year for delivery of the much- de layed operating system. But partners say the company recently slipped its expected release-to-manufacturing date from November to December.
Starting last week, the company began burning RC2 CDs, which it will supply to its 650,000 Beta 3 testers. The first RC2 CDs should reach testers this week.
Microsoft maintains that the only changes made to RC2 since RC1 have been the addition of new software and hardware drivers, improved management tools, an update to Windows Media Services and support for Web Telephony Engine (the successor to the Web Interactive Voice Response product for creating and running telephony applications).
With RC2, Microsoft released the system requirements for its forthcoming Windows 2000 SKUs. Microsoft recommends a 133MHz or faster Pentium, at least 64MB of RAM, and 650MB of disk space to run Windows 2000 Profes sional. For Windows 2000 Server, it suggests a 133MHz Pentium or faster CPU, 256MB of RAM, and 1GB of disk space. For Advanced Server, Microsoft recommends a 133MHz or faster CPU, 256MB of RAM, and 1GB of disk space.
The Win 2000 shuffle
New in Release Candidate 2
New software and hardware drivers
Improved management tools
An update to Windows Media Services
Support for Microsoft's Web Telephony Engine
Missing in Release Candidate 2
Component load balancing